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Joe Bonamassa scorching hot in Vancouver

Wednesday night Orpheum Theatre

VANCOUVER van cleef necklace diamond imitation At 35, there is not much Joe Bonamassa hasn't already accomplished.

A fourth generation musician born and raised in New Hartford, NY, Bonamassa has released over 15 studio albums (including four with reportedly defunct supergroup Black Country Communion, which included drummer Jason Bonham) and six live albums/DVDs including his latest, An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House, which came out just a couple of weeks ago.

A guitar hero whose skills have been praised by the greats, Bonamassa was playing Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan note for note by age seven. King at the age of 12, earning the nickname of "Smokin' Joe."

At 14, he was playing with Bloodline, a band that also featured Berry Oakley Jr. (son of Allman Brothers founding member Berry Oakley), Doors guitarist Robby Krieger's son Waylon, and Miles Davis' son Erin.

Twenty years later he has crossed paths with more top music men and women than one can mention, from Eric Clapton to Deep Purple's Jon Lord and Don Airey.

Old time blues, prog rock, country pickin' folk Bonamassa can nail them all like few can, and his last two studio albums, 2011's Dust Bowl and last year's Driving Towards The Daylight, have earned him praise from music publications of all stripes, his name fast becoming a familiar one even outside tight knit guitar circles.

At his North American tour kickoff Wednesday night at the Orpheum, Bonamassa gave his sold out crowd a fire hot display.

It was a two hour plus celebration of the six string, an instrument that Bonamassa can shred on like Jimmy Page or make sing and cry like David Gilmour.

Dressed in his replica Van Cleef & Arpels Clover Necklace with flower slick suit and sporting his trademark beach ready sunglasses (which some have likened to David Caruso's on CSI: Miami), Bonamassa started by handing out a mini five song set of acoustic material.

Sitting at centre stage under stark white lighting, Bonamassa made a cover of Bad Company's Seagull, a snappy campfire version of Charles Mingus' Jelly Roll (complete with hand drums), and an accordion laden version of Tom Waits' Jockey Full of Bourbon sound all too easy.

Unfortunately, Bonamassa siphoned much of Waits' original darkness out of the song and made it sound uncharacteristically upbeat, something he tends to do with some of the more brooding material he chooses to re adapt his own way.

Still you have to hand it to him: No one walks out of a Joe Bonamassa concert feeling depressed or let down, and you could only grin seeing his fingers fly as he hopscotched from blues to bluegrass on his own heart thumping Woke Up Dreaming, which set the stage for the main portion of the show.

When he finally unleashed his full electric power backed by his ace three piece band Arlan Schierbaum on keys, Carmine Rojas on bass, and Tal Bergman on drums he leaned into Slow Train with devastating precision, the Orpheum turned into a massive echo chamber ringing out with the sonic flames flowing out of Bonamassa's Gibson Firebird.

The concert often felt like an excuse for Bonamassa to show off all the insanely cool guitars he owns, making his Les Paul wail on Dust Bowl and busting out the double necker for the groove heavy Dislocated Boy, a song that also featured a killer organ solo.

Bonamassa is a clean, efficient singer. He doesn't have the biggest or boldest vocal personality, something his fingers make up for easily, but he can sing a song like the poppy Driving Towards The Daylight with just enough emotional depth to make it work.

If the vocals sometimes sounded buried in what was otherwise a solid sound mix, Bonamassa may have simply been taking things a little easier than usual, admitting he had been battling the flu.

"There's one town on the globe that you don't cancel postpone or mess with, and that's Vancouver," he told the crowd. "You might be our peaceful neighbours to the North, but I know one of you would have shanked me."

It's when he nailed the classics and monster cuts Howlin' Wolf's Who's Been Talking, Tim Curry's epic Sloe Gin, Mose Allison's Young Man Blues, and a wild, Deep Purple esque Ballad of John Henry that Bonamassa really amped things to 11 on guitar, garnering a few well deserved standing O's.

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